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Home Improvements Chapter 4 - Accents: Walls vs Ceilings

After several months of lying in bed on my back, due to health reasons, believe me I had plenty of time to reflect on things. The road to recovery is not easy unless you make plans for new projects (but believe me, the size of the project is hardly of any importance). I spent a lot of time looking up at the ceiling of our bedroom - enough anyway to decide that once I was back on my feet, I would repaint the room starting with the ceiling!

Almost any ceiling is really a "fifth wall" waiting to be "styled". It is no surprise that in the past for centuries, ceilings were the dominating accent of a room ranging from "sumptuous" gold leaf decorative ornaments and art masterpieces to more humble crown moldings and bold colors. I grew up in flat with an accent ceiling. In the house we live in now, there is an accent ceiling in our kitchen, our family's bathroom and I plan to make an accent ceiling for my second baby's bedroom. Accent ceilings have been around for a very long time. However, it has been several decades now that we have shifted our focus elsewhere and accent ceilings are scarcely used. Instead, many accent walls have appeared some of which are completely "overstylish" or even odd and hence, they contribute to a "clutter" that does not do much justice to the rest of the room.

I personally believe that one knows instinctively when an accent wall will work. The architectural features of the room usually will pinpoint that (i.e. the presence of a "volume" in the space such as a fireplace). In most cases, one does not need an accent wall, unless it is an accent ceiling. Make no mistake, that accent ceilings are not about bold and bright hues or extravagant trimmings and finishes, but more of a background feature like a canvas that brings things together. It would be a very odd result indeed to decorate only a palace room's ceiling and not the entire room. Similarly, it is odd to have a very heavily decorated room with an indifferent white ceiling. Think of balance... it's the drive that keeps things in a constant move!
This is an example of a bedroom where the accent wall has not worked properly. 
The rooms balance weighs slightly to the left side. The marquee piece of this bedroom is the art piece 
to the left. 

The wonderful thing about the accent ceilings I go for is that they distribute one's focus evenly across the entire room thus, highlighting the entire synthesis! I truly believe that if a newcomer walks into a room for the first time and is able to point out one feature in particular, then the synthesis has failed. Rooms are meant to reflect the whole of our personality and not just a single trait of our characters. At the end of the day, it's the synthesis and its aura that must prevail. Marquee pieces should be part of a broad collage, best highlighted in a subtle and eclectic manner rather than in a loud, outspoken way.

Photos above:

Keeping all these in mind, it is good to pinpoint a couple of things to watch out. Accent ceilings just like accent walls, work well in distinct boundaries that are regular in shape and plan. That is why bedrooms and bathrooms are ideal spaces for any amateur to experiment with accent ceilings. Open floor spaces and accent ceilings usually do not work, unless a flawless design plan has been prepared ahead. The height of the ceiling, the flow of the natural light, any particular architectural features i.e. clerestory windows, artificial lighting are all essential factors to be taken into consideration before designing and executing an accent ceiling. Then, there are the crown moldings, if any. Should they match the ceiling color, the wall color or should they be sharp and hence, define the end of the walls and the beginning of the ceiling. As a rule of thumb, use accents to highlight anything worthwhile.

So before you start your new home improvement project, take some time off to stare at your ceiling and reflect, reconsider and design your desired outcome. Do you really need an accent and if so, which one will work best for you.

Till next time,


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